I’ve been subscribed to the 99U email updates from Behance for awhile; sometimes I pay attention to what’s in them, but often they just get lost in the sea of 14 billion other things I’ve subscribed to over the years that bombard my inbox like a hailstorm every day. However, yesterday one of the entries caught my attention and I actually read it – “The Art of the Done List.” This drove me back to an article from last week, “#labrat: Are Daily Logbooks Worth the Work?,” which I thought was great. It includes some photos of handwritten daily job logs and some screenshots of electronic logs that were submitted from various points around the Interwebs, and I always love seeing insights into how other people think and record their actions.
I’ve read a lot about the usefulness of a daily work log, and I’ve been sporadically keeping one in Day One (which, unrelated, I totally love) for a while now – checking my entry history shows that the first post I tagged with “Job Journal” was on July 8, 2013. I had a couple of subheads: “completed”, “meetings”, “contacts” and “social/other”, and basically it was a simple little list of the eight things I thought to make note of that day in those four categories. Over the last two weeks I have refocused my attention on maintaining this daily logbook. I’m not entirely sure how many of these I have done in total since I started last July, mostly because I went through stages where I paid no attention to tagging posts when I was done.
However, for the last nine days now (I’m keeping a running total of how many consecutive days I’ve done the log in the log – which is a pretty solid motivator) I’ve kept this, which I would feel fairly confident saying is my longest streak so far. I’ve been adapting and adding content over time; for instance, this week I started copying the content from a daily affirmation email on leadership topics from Fieldhouse Leadership  into each daily entry, and I’ve switched to categorizing tasks under a common action verb rather than the previous general categories of meetings, contacts, etc. – words like “draft”, “update”, “write”, and “FUP” (my shorthand for “followup”).
I’m also trying to make a concerted effort to be active in a couple of online communities related to higher education marketing and social media, and I’m maintaining a separate “post” entry as a reminder for when I’ve contributed to discussions in those different venues.
I have to say that while this seems like it might be a waste of time, it has proven to be incredibly helpful during the times I have needed to refer back to something and found that I actually remembered to enter the event on that certain day. Email is an easy archive and replacement memory – I have tens of thousands of email messages going back years, and while because of the way Apple’s mail.app threads messages finding a specific message is slightly more challenging than necessary, it can be done relatively quickly. But what of phone calls? Or chance meetings in the hall? I was discovering that those things were lost to the ether, particularly if they were in some way noteworthy but did not lead to information that ended up in my inbox or find its way into a to-do item in Wunderlist.
Sometimes I just want to check and see how many days it’s been since I called someone to check in about something or another. So, ultimately, in addition to becoming a daily list of “these are things I did today” (which is good for the psyche), these lists in Day One have become a de facto low-tech CRM system.
I’m enjoying what I’m doing with Day One in terms of job journaling, and as my work becomes increasingly more complex and intensive because of our seemingly infinitely expanding scope of responsibilities, it’s proven to be a useful tool in the arsenal of toys I’m using to keep work under control.